Trenton, New Jersey – Pequannock, New Jersey native Derek Jeter stepped to the plate in the first inning for the Trenton Thunder, and proceeded to single to left.
Photo courtesy of Mike Ashmore
Not one hit closer to 3,000 mind you, but one step closer to his return to the New York Yankees lineup after injuring his hamstring June 13th.
“But I felt good. I did a lot of things…first to third, tagging up, ball to the left, ball to the right, I moved around quite a bit, so I’m happy with it.”
Jeter arrived from Tampa Friday and the plan was to get him in two games with the Thunder. In his first game with the Thunder on Saturday he went 1-2 with a walk.
“I was fine with [getting three at-bats], that was the plan going in.”
The Yankee captain’s arrival caused a bit of fun trouble for Trenton’s regular shortstop, Jose Pirela. Pirela had an important question for Thunder manager Tony Franklin.
“I asked him if Jeter was going to play second.”
When a reporter told Jeter about Pirella’s inquiry, Jeter replied with a laugh, “I’m still trying to figure out short…”
There was also the matter of his number. The #2 belongs to Thunder second baseman Corban Joseph, but, again, fun trouble arose.
“I really didn’t have much choice,” said Joseph. “So I picked three for Babe Ruth.”
Jeter is aware of former Thunder player Eduardo Nunez making quite an impression in his absence. Nunez has come through for the Yankees, with seven hits in the last two games.
“He’s played well. I texted him and just told him to keep working. Anytime you’re a young player coming up, when you have some success it gives you confidence. And it seems like he’s very confident. One thing you have to realize about him is that he’s used to playing everyday. So it’s difficult for him not to play everyday, I would assume. He’s getting that opportunity to play.”
Yankees GM Brian Cashman acknowledged Nunez fine performance lately.
“That’s what they’re there for. We need to have depth. Championship teams are about not just the 25 guys you have out there, it’s also about what’s behind those guys. Nunez has done a tremendous job. That’s what he’s there for. He’s the big insurance policy.”
The Thunder players did not waste their opportunity to pick his brain (as well as ask for autographs, though Jeter wouldn’t say who).
“They ask a lot of questions. Anything you can do to help. They’re pretty inquisitive. I have a good relationship with a lot of them, knowing them from spring training in Tampa. These guys are YOUNG. I’m like fifteen years older than a lot of them. ”
All his experience aside, the fact that he hadn’t played in three weeks admittedly got to him.
“I was nervous,” Jeter admitted. “I didn’t sleep much last night.”
Perhaps helping him be less nervous: a cheering crowd of 9,002, the second highest attendance in Trenton Thunder history.
Jeter is expected to play at least one more game with the Thunder on Sunday, according to Cashman. “When Derek comes back, he’s in the leadoff spot.”